Most of us would agree that money, in itself, does not buy happiness. However, its purchasing power can go a long way towards making life more pleasant.
It has always been my personal opinion that the inclination to deny any connection between cash and happiness is a luxury reserved for those who have always had enough to get by. Anyone living paycheck to paycheck – like most Americans – will likely admit that an unexpected deposit in their bank account would do wonders for their mood. It is easy to understand how money can provide a sense of security and relieve stress. However, there may be even more to the connection between cash and contentment than that, according to a new study.
A University of Cambridge study that was recently published in Psychological Science examined the correlation between happiness, spending, income, and the tendency of a subject’s purchases to be an expression of their personality. For example, the purchase of a bicycle for an athlete or a donation to a political movement for an activist would be strongly linked to each subject’s authentic self.
The study examined more than 76,000 bank transaction records, delving deeply into the nature of each purchase as a representation of the spender.
The results determined that the link between happiness and personality-fitting purchases was even stronger than the link between happiness and total spending and income. Put more simply, choosing to purchase something you love is even more important than having enough spending money to comfortably do so.
They also determined that the more closely a subject’s purchases fit their personality, the higher the subject rated their overall life satisfaction.
This study is especially relevant because it went beyond the obvious effect of financial security on our sense of happiness. By accounting for the link between available spending money and happiness as well, the authors were able to prove that our spending choices are even more important than our ability to spend a lot. As Will Rogers brilliantly warned, “Too many people spend money they earned…to buy things they don’t want…to impress people that they don’t like.” Don’t be one of those people. Know yourself, and use your money to reflect who you are.